Protective behavioral strategies for reducing alcohol involvement: a review of the methodological issues

Addict Behav. 2013 Jul;38(7):2343-51. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2013.03.010. Epub 2013 Mar 22.


Alcohol use among college students remains a major public health concern with many students experiencing negative alcohol-related consequences as a result of their drinking. Protective behavioral strategies (PBS) have been conceptualized as skills used by drinkers to moderate their drinking and/or resulting consequences. The correlational evidence for the relationships among PBS, alcohol use, and related problems has been mixed. Experimental research reveals inconsistent relationships among intervention condition, PBS use, and alcohol outcomes. There is currently insufficient evidence to support the claim that PBS function as a mechanism of behavior change for college drinkers. We propose that the inconsistencies found in the correlational and experimental research are explained in part by psychometric and methodological issues. This review summarizes measurement and methodological issues in studies that have directly assessed the relationship between PBS and alcohol use and/or alcohol-related consequences in college drinking samples. Additionally, we provide some suggestions and future directions to overcome methodological and conceptual limitations and to advance understanding of the role of protective behavioral strategy use in reducing alcohol involvement among college drinkers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking* / prevention & control
  • Alcohol Drinking* / psychology
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychometrics* / methods
  • Psychometrics* / standards
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • Universities